underworld /
16 July 2014Trademarks

New UK minister against plain packaging

A UK Member of Parliament (MP) who has spoken out against plain packaging for cigarettes has been promoted to a ministerial role at the UK Treasury.

Priti Patel, a Conservative MP, has been elevated to the role of exchequer secretary, following a re-shuffle of ministers by Prime Minister David Cameron.

Patel will be responsible for enterprise and productivity, including small-business taxation and economic reform, competition and regulation.

She has previously taken a strong stance against plain-packaging laws, including the proposed law’s possible effect on independent newsagents.

In June, WIPR reported that the government had launched a public consultation over the proposed regulations.

The consultation, which proposes making cigarette packs a plain brown colour with a small space for a brand name, runs for six weeks and closes on August 7.

The government has invited interested parties to register their views

Patel, the MP for Witham, Essex, told The Guardian newspaper: "The proposed introduction of standardised packaging is a cause for serious concern for independent retailers and small shops."

The proposals for plain packaging have also attracted criticism from trademark and brand owners who fear that IP rights would be hindered.

So far, Australia is the only country to have introduced the requirement but Ireland is planning to and earlier this month WIPR  reported that France is also considering implementing new laws.

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